Episode 14: Are Debates Useful?

29 Sep

We talk about whether we think (formal) debates are useful. Gabe says no, because they do a poor job of informing the audience and skilled debaters rely on psychological tricks rather than advancing good arguments and evidence. Erik says yes, because they are entertaining and stir up the public’s interest in the area.

Regrettably, Erik did not prepare for the debate, and lost.

Listen to this episode

Dig a bit deeper:

Do you think formal debates do more harm than good? Are they more educational or entertaining? What is your favorite formal debate? Each side will get five minutes of opening remarks in the comment section below!


Posted by on September 29, 2012 in New Episode, Rants


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Episode 14: Are Debates Useful?

  1. killaprostitute

    October 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Most definitely Hitchens vs Galloway. I think public debates can do good and here’s why:

    Before watching the debate I was 100% entirely anti-war. After watching the debate, and see somebody as great as Hitchens argue his corner passionately, he really has changed my mind on a lot of issues with the war.

    I am still anti-war, but my understanding has increased greatly after hearing what he had to say.

    My latest blog post comments slightly on that debate, but it’s mainly about Galloway’s ‘eulogy’ to Hitchens.

    • nontheology

      October 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Yeah, good point. I think what you’re saying is basically in line with something Erik said and that I agreed with: that debates are useful for raising awareness. It doesn’t necessarily change anyone’s mind about the central topic itself, but I guess changing minds shouldn’t necessarily be the ultimate goal of a debate. Informing the audience and making them more aware of some of the complex issues and perspectives is definitely a valuable purpose.


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